November 13, 2009
Inside the Tea Party ExpressBy Kyle-Anne Shiver
If I ever get around to making myself one of those memory-keeping scrapbooks, my ride on the Tea Party Express this past Monday will have an honored place. Such a rare privilege just doesn't come along in life that often.
This past Monday, November 9th, I was cordially invited (or did I push my way in? Can't recall.) to ride the Express from Birmingham to Atlanta, a 3-hour drive which I dutifully filled with interviews of the entertainers and coordinators.
This is the second national tour of the Tea Party Express, a caravan featuring two 45-foot coaches along with several RV's and support vehicles. As stated by Levi Russell, the communications director, "our mission is to unify, educate, and most importantly encourage Americans to continue their opposition of deficit spending, government-run healthcare, and irresponsible bailouts."
And oh, what an encouragement these fine patriots are!
Lloyd Marcus, Diana Nagy and Ron and Kay Rivoli bring on the goosebumps, the smiles and the cheers wherever they go. Just seeing them perform their patriotic medley was quite a treat, but talking to them each privately was even better.
Lloyd Marcus, who has written many fine columns for American Thinker, might be one of the most well-rounded, multi-talented people I've ever had the pleasure to meet. Everybody who's anybody has seen Lloyd's performance of both the "Tea Party Anthem" and "2010" on YouTube. But seeing him perform in person -- and yes, even being on stage while he sang -- was quite the thrill for me.
Now, here's the scoop on how the "Tea Party Anthem" came into being. Lloyd wrote the words to this song in his car! Last March, he was planning to attend a Tea Party in Orlando, Florida, close to his own home in Deltona. Lloyd already "understood the pulse of the people," he says, by listening to Rush and others on the radio. He also had been an entertainer for years, and had booked talent (himself included) for troop support rallies. While he was riding around in his car, preparing for the upcoming Tea Party, he got the idea for a song to fire people up, and having left his own pocket recorder at home, he called his production studio and left the words streaming from his heart and head on their answering machine. Later, he recorded the song put to music with the help of his producer. Orlando talk radio played the anthem first. Then World Net Daily picked it up. The rest is history.
Let me jus say off the cuff, honey, the women go wild when Lloyd sings.
But don't be gettin' any ideas, ladies. He's married.
But the most remarkable thing about Lloyd Marcus is not really his talent. It's the fact that he has had more hard knocks in life than most, perhaps, but hasn't a shred of the victim mentality about him. He attributes that to his Christian faith and the fact that he has such a loving, supportive wife. Lloyd's vocal, written and artistic messages are greatly amplified by his humble spirit and genuine attitude of gratitude.
Like me, Lloyd, who describes himself as an "un-hyphenated black American," grew up in the South when things were indeed brutally unjust for black citizens. He remembers well his own father's brush with a lynch-mob's noose. He also remembers how his father, having taken a test and earning the position of a Baltimore fire fighter, was nevertheless, required to use a separate restroom and separate silverware in the mess. I saw these kinds of things, too, and I well remember them.
The difference between Lloyd and liberals -- both black and white -- is that he actually practices the Christian forgiveness that others speak of but somehow never get around to. For me, a white Southerner, meeting Lloyd Marcus, hugging him, sharing our experiences and faith together, was indeed a healing experience. It gave me a fresh and welcome perspective on all the encounters Lloyd so eloquently describes in his articles on American Thinker. Readers have something to look forward to. Lloyd Marcus' first book, Confessions of a Black Conservative, will be out in a couple of weeks.
Another Tea Party Express entertainer I got to meet, Diana Nagy, is absolutely as beautiful as her pictures, and from all I could tell, she's every bit as lovely inside as out. Her rendition of the Star Bangled Banner put goosebumps on every inch of my body and nearly made me cry.
Talking to Ron and Kay Rivoli, who wrote and perform another song heard ‘round the world, "Press One for English," was a breath of fresh air. This singing duo is as down-home and delightful as apple pie with a dollop of homemade ice cream on top. "Press One for English" now has more than 13 million views posted to YouTube and was another song sparked on the spur of the moment.
Kay says she was driving out of her neighborhood one day, when she spotted a sign in Korean, rather than English. She says the song just sprang to her heart, quickly making its way into the duo's repertoire. With her infectious sense of humor, she adds, "If we had known it was going to be such a big hit, we would have spent ten more minutes on it." Both Ron and Kay are American down to their pores and it's hard not to become patriots through osmosis while around them.
I learned more about the freedom movement sweeping this Country from Darla Dawald in 20 minutes than I could have imagined. Darla is pure business woman, on top of everything and was nearly as outspoken as I am. Darla Dawald started out with the coordinators of Grassfire and is now the national coordinator of Resist Net.
Grassfire, started by Steve Elliot in 2001, is a non-interactive, issues-oriented national group, which sponsors petitions, email alerts on all matters American and was, along with Resist Net, one of the sponsors of the Tea Party Express. One of my main questions to Darla concerned funding. She assured me that all funds used for the Tea Party Express and other resistance activities are strictly donations. No sugar daddies like George Soros here. No tax dollars. No political party involvement. These events are strictly of the people, by the people and for the people.
Darla says that Grassfire has more than 1.5 million members now. Resist Net was begun in January, only a few days after the inauguration. By February, Resist Net had 20,000 members; today it has 68,000.
Nearly every day, readers write to me stressing the need for conservatives to get organized. Well, I've good news. We are! It was Resist Net, teamed with Grassfire and the 912 project which put together the march on Washington, a national protest that saw hundreds of thousands of American citizens send a loud message to Congress and the President. A message, which is apparently not seeping in just yet, but certainly will by 2010.
Darla Dawald told me that even as they traveled on the Tea Party Express, she directed a change-their-votes effort from the road. There were 39 Blue Dog Democrats that needed to vote "No" on Pelosi's healthcare power-grab, and of those 39, they succeeded in helping to turn 34 of them. Quite an accomplishment, I would say. That scanty five-vote margin is nothing to crow about and didn't just happen all by itself. As Darla says, "more people wake up every day" and with the dawn of every new morning, we conservatives "have a more even playing field."
Now, the biggest disappointment I had while riding the Tea Party Express was how short a time I had. If I had had another day, I still could not have explored every topic with every person.
My greatest regret was that I had such a short time with one of the most eloquent, smartest people I've yet to meet anywhere.
William Owens (his lovely wife, Selena was there too, but I didn't get a chance to talk with her.) made the best statement I've seen so far about why all this protest and resistance is happening now. Why hasn't it happened before?
William answers matter-of-factly, calmly and without a shred of hesitation. I'm putting his responses here as quotes, without my usual chatty-cathy embellishments, so as not to dilute Owens' obvious wisdom:
William Owens wrote a book before the election, which I missed then, but will surely get now. Obama: Why Black Americans Should Have Doubts promises to be a great read, judging from the caliber of its author.
Well, folks, we arrived all too soon in Atlanta and I had to get off the Tea Party Express and return to my little office-cloister. But having had at least a touch of the Tea Party experience, I'm more convinced than ever of the American fealty for liberty and am now assured that the people are ready to start the American Reformation in earnest.
Kyle-Anne Shiver is an independent journalist and a frequent contributor to American Thinker. She blogs at kyleanneshiver.com.